Date

2016

Department or Program

Political Science

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Laura Grattan

Abstract

This thesis addresses the dimensions of what protestors in Ferguson refer to as “revolutionary love,” an affective force expressed and enacted in the streets. Answering the skepticism and dismissal of love in politics, I first examine the tradition of love in radical Black political thought, as well as somewhat more recent turns to love in feminist, queer and affect theory. Turning to diverse sources of coverage on protests against police brutality, including press coverage of Black Lives Matter the organization, the self-critical archive available via Ferguson activists’ use of Twitter, and participant observation in protests in and around Ferguson, Missouri. Using both words and actions, I examine how movement actors define and use love in moments of uncertainty and risk. This love, I argue, has certain key components: constituting the movement, continuing the movement through certain practices (care labor and solidarity) and struggling in the face of both internal and external pressures. Moreover, it performs certain functions in linking protestors together in defiance of the white supremacist state.

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